Fight the Fuss – Getting to Grips With Fussy Eating

Are you looking for advice about your little one’s fussy eating habits? Meet Paediatric Dietitian, Hayley.

Hayley is a Paediatric Dietitian and Medical Nutrition Manager for Abbott in the UK. Here she answers common questions about fussy eating and provides some handy tips to help make sure your child gets all the nutrition they need!

Why is it important for children to eat a balanced diet?

A balanced diet is important for the healthy growth and development of children. Ideally, it should include a variety of foods from different food groups so that children get a good combination of the essential nutrients they need to grow and thrive.

How can parents encourage healthy eating habits from a young age?

Introducing a variety of foods with different textures and strength of flavour, can help get children off to a good start with a healthy and wholesome diet.

Bear in mind that a child might reject new foods several times before they agree to try them; the key is to keep meal times relaxed and allow them to explore what works for their own tastes.

How common is fussy eating in children?

Fussy eating is common in young children, with up to a third of children aged around two going through this stage; nevertheless, it can be a worrying and tense time for parents. There are creative solutions to navigate this phase and, in most children, this phase will pass. However, if you become increasingly concerned or notice any physical changes, I recommend you seek advice from a healthcare professional.

How can parents encourage their fussy eater to try new foods?

There are many ways to encourage your fussy eater to try different foods.

A few of my favourite tips are:

  • Keep a food diary – Looking at what your child eats over the week will help to get an overall view of their food intake to identify any gaps.
  • Get them cooking – Letting them pick a few ingredients and mixing them into a recipe will make them feel more involved with mealtimes.
  • Make it fun – Arrange the food into funny faces or make up new names for foods such as “mini trees” for broccoli.
  • Family time –Sit down together to eat as a family and talk about your day; this will help to take the focus off what your child is eating and bring a social element to mealtimes –  key for a positive attitude towards food.

When and how should praise and reinforcement be used?

Praise is important to keep your child’s thoughts around food and meal times positive. Praise should be given once the food has been eaten, however much or little they eat.

Reinforcement is also important to reduce negative associations with food. For example, I would also advise that you eat the food yourself, without making a big deal of it, doing so will only reinforce the negative thought your child has when he tells himself “Sprouts! Urghh!” each time you mention them. Instead, allow the food concerned to become familiar.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that your child’s experience of taste will develop over time; giving it time is not the same as giving up.

What can parents do to help their fussy eater be healthier in the long term?

There are a variety of things you can do to contribute to a long-term healthy relationship with food. Exposing your child to a wide range of foods and dining experiences such as different cuisines, restaurants, eating out and about on holiday, are a great starting point.

What is the role of nutritional supplements during the fussy eating phase?

Filling the gaps in your child’s diet in the short term, while they’re going through a fussy eating phase, helps them get the nutrients they need to fuel their busy lives, while giving you peace of mind!

If you’re trying to get that extra dose of goodness into your little one, a nutritional supplement can be highly beneficial.

PaediaSure Shake is a complete and balanced, milky nutritional food supplement that provides all the essential nutrients your child may have missed out on from those uneaten greens and helps fill any nutrient gaps in their diet.

It has been specially formulated for children aged 1-10 years. Available in three great-tasting flavours vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, that have been tried, tested and approved by kids, it contains 26 vitamins and minerals to support their growth and development. PaediaSure Shake is versatile and can be used as a snack, alongside or in-between meals. PaediaSure Shake is available at Boots, Ocado and Amazon.

Visit to find out more. 

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